Steady growth for baseball and softball on social media.

2023 was a significant year for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) in terms of tournaments played and the power gained through new technology and social media.

2023 has been an exciting year for the WBSC with the Baseball 5, Softball and Baseball World Cups. Three World Baseball Championships, four World Softball Championships, and the first-ever inclusion of Youth Baseball 5 in a World Cup have provided the perfect platform for communication tailored to the preferences of both young and not-so-young consumers.

Of course, the Baseball Champions League did not lag behind, and the international baseball/softball stage offered something for everyone, especially with widespread multi-platform coverage on social media. 

In this respect, the WBSC's social media platforms have paved the way for a new form of communication that transcends youth barriers and increasingly reaches out to the general public. In terms of the events organised by the WBSC, fans, regardless of their location or the technology at their disposal, were able to access an unprecedented amount of content, sharing in the passion and fun of these global disciplines, as well as in the interaction typical of many of these "new" methods of communication. 

The emotionally charged year in baseball, softball, and baseball 5 across the various playing fields was reflected in the social media engagement fuelled by the WBSC's multi-platform approach. They successfully synergised growth while interacting with fans and consumers from all five continents.

Mexico's Jonathan Jones during the WBSC Premier 12 bronze medal match against the USA. GETTY IMAGES
Mexico's Jonathan Jones during the WBSC Premier 12 bronze medal match against the USA. GETTY IMAGES

In terms of numbers, the response to the WBSC's social media platforms has been impressive and significant. The WBSC social community has now surpassed 1.1 million followers. TikTok, a platform specialising in the creation of short audiovisual content with a strong musical element, continues to be the fastest growing social media platform used by the WBSC to promote its activities, doubling its followers in just one year to reach 83,000 by the end of the year.

The platform also had 14.4 million video views during the year. TikTok has a significant following among young people, with 34% in the 16-24 age group and 32% in the 25-34 age group, making it crucial for future positioning.

Facebook, more influential and rooted in an older audience, remains the WBSC's largest social media presence with 621,000 followers. However, in percentage terms, its growth was ten times less than that of TikTok, with a 10% increase compared to 2022.

The other two social media platforms in terms of importance also experienced growth. In 2023, X (formerly Twitter) remained a reliable source of information for a more specialised audience, reaching a follower count of 115,000, while Instagram grew by 13% in 2023 to exceed 110,000.

Japan's Miu Goto, in the softball women's final between Japan and China at the 2022 Asian Games. GETTY IMAGES
Japan's Miu Goto, in the softball women's final between Japan and China at the 2022 Asian Games. GETTY IMAGES

The YouTube social media/information channel continued its growth from 2022, reaching 185,000 subscribers on the channel that allows fans to watch and enjoy highlights of WBSC tournaments, complementing the WBSC's OTT channel - GameTime, which offers live streaming and on-demand games.

In terms of geographically targeted social media platforms, the Korea-focused social media platform Naver achieved 1.4 million video views, while the Korean platform Kakao surpassed half a million video views. Another Asia-focused platform, Weibo, continues to grow and has already reached 55,000 followers. The growth of the WBSC's eSports discipline is also seeing steady engagement on traditional gaming platforms such as Discord.

2024 looks very promising for the WBSC as it includes the flagship event, Premier12, presented by RAXUS, scheduled for 10-24 November, 2024, with the finals taking place at the Tokyo Dome. In addition to a busy calendar of baseball, softball, and baseball5, the 17th WBSC Women's Softball World Cup Finals will be held in Italy in July 2024. Another exciting and successful year is on the horizon for the global online baseball/softball community.